The abnormal sperm morphology racket for over-reporting teratozoospermia

One of the newest rackets we're seeing is that a lot of men are being reported as having male factor infertility due to abnormal sperm morphology - what is technically called teratozoospermia.

The irony is most lab technicians have no idea at all as to how to actually check for sperm morphology. There is a WHO Manual for Semen Analysis, which describes this process in great detail, but the vast majority of Indian labs dont follow these guidelines, because it is very time-consuming and needs a lot of expertise.

To report sperm morphology properly, the sperm need to be stained , and the shape of each individual sperm ( for at least a total of 100 sperm) tallied. The technicians dont have the ability to follow this, so they just take shortcuts. The biggest racket is they report the majority of sperm as being abnormally shaped and label the patient as having teratozoospermia, without providing any details !

This scares the patient, because they start believing this means they will end up with having abnormal babies . Also, doctors now blame this abnormality as being the reason for the infertility, and will misdiagnose them as having Male Factor Infertility because of teratozoospermia. They will either treat them with some medicines ( which dont help at all, but waste the patients time and money), or force them to do ICSI ( especially if its an IVF lab).

This is completely uncalled for , so please go into the details of the report and insist that you want to see the details of the abnormal sperm report. Just saying that there are 97% abnormal forms is completely unacceptable, and suggests the lab is incompetent and shoddy.

In any case, you should repeat it again from a better lab, which has the required expertise to do a semen analysis properly.

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Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.